Friday, August 20, 2010

It's a career fact. Asking yields rewards.

"If you don't ask, you don't get" -- we've always wanted to feature this piece of knowledge from Mahatma Gandhi on this blog. Today's the day....apparently. We're not fans of quotes and stuff like them per se, but this wisdom of his fits with what we're set to discuss today to a T. Plus the fact that Gandhi is a big inspiration figure for us (and he perfectly deserves to be mentioned here at least once in a while). How could we not use it to start today's discussion?

What can asking questions do to your career? Whether you're already working or just about to start your career, taking in this Gandhi wisdom will give you rewards, to put it bluntly.

For Job seekers:
David P. Helfand's idea in an article of his for job seekers (we have it on Career Advice) is this: "First figure out, as best as you can, exactly what you want to do." Self questioning is how you should start your job hunting. Based on your interests and skills, which trade suits you best? The Singapore job market's a big place; suggestions are endless. Pick the wrong choice and you'll plummet. IT jobs in Singapore are what you should look for if you have the knack for technology. Similarly, if you're interested in people development, HR jobs and Admin jobs are the best options for you. Complicated? "If relevant career options are not identified, the remaining steps (researching career options, resume writing, job searching, and interviewing) become more and more difficult to complete", to quote more. Once you've identified this, everything else that follows fall into place more easily.

Aside from convenience, another benefit of "asking" is that it can better your chances of getting the job. This applies in the job interview phase and after. "Asking the right type of questions can definitely leave the interviewer with a great impression about you", Jonathan Kwan, Principal at Kwantum Leap, has shared with us when we've interviewed him for Ask an Expert. An ideal interview is when you and the interviewer/s take turns in asking and answering questions. It'll show that you're really interested in getting the job, handing you plus points in the process. But there's a big difference between blabbing and this job interview advice, mind you. "If you want to leave a lasting impression, try to ask questions that they will care about", Jonathan has continued. Of course, researching is out of question. As to how you can put to use the materials you've researched properly, Jonathan has given us three rules:

  • Only ask questions you genuinely want to know the answer to
  • Don't ask open-ended questions; try to be as specific as possible
  • Always start your question with a bit of a preamble
You'll start to wonder about the status of your application a few days after the interview. Suit your curiosity up -- making a follow up is in fact, a good idea. Provided that you've done it in a professional way, the employer will see your call a positive sign -- something that may put you to a higher spot in the shortlist.

For working professionals:
Working professionals who "ask" get better career prospects than those who don't. The reason for this is, quite frankly, self explanatory. "Remember that you have a responsibility to yourself to be the best that you can", Adecco Singapore has shared with us once. Seeking for a salary increase? You've seen learning opportunities that can benefit you and your colleagues? Ask your boss about it. Nothing will happen unless you put it out in the open.

Successful entrepreneur and business coach, Kenneth D. Foster is a firm believer of the "ask and you'll succeed" modus. We've interviewed him once for Ask an Expert. This is what he's told us when we've asked him why its important to ask questions in career building. "Without introspection, life becomes dull, glum, and sometimes painful, because we stay stuck in old habits of thinking and acting."

Kenneth also believes that job dissatisfaction can be avoided through self questioning. "We can use insightful self-questioning to help move us out of times of despair toward more clarity, and a recovery of our purpose and joy." Whenever you find yourself confronted by issues, ask yourself these insightful bits from Kenneth to get relief:
  • What is the greatest obstacle in my way that I truly want an answer to?
  • If I’m not happy with the results I’m getting, what do I need to change?
  • What is the pay-off for staying where I am in life?
  • What is the pay-off for moving toward a more optimistic outlook?
  • What limitations do I believe about myself that I am now willing to discard?
We've started this post with a quote. Why not end it with another one? We'll leave you here with another powerful statement from Kenneth:

"If we want to have meaningful careers and to create successful businesses, we need to self-question ourselves to get to the heart of what it is we really want to do with our lives, and to find the way that we will most be of service in the world."

Want to read the articles we've used as references for this post? Simply follow these links:

Knowing yourself & knowing how to create your own good luck and keys to career planning

How to Ask Good Questions? It’s Not About You, It’s About Them

Ask An Expert - How to Ask and You Will Succeed, by Kenneth D. Foster

What Are You Worth? Singapore
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